EGYPT – ISRAEL
The World Youth Forum that met in January 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh was cast in Egypt as preparation for the UN Conference on Climate Change that will be held there in November. At a session devoted to environmental issues, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared that “Man is the only creature on earth that is capable of bringing destruction but is also capable of building and repairing.” Indeed, the Forum showed that Egypt seeks to play a leading role in building and repairing, both in its own territory and in the regional arena – Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Israel, for its part, should support Egypt’s intentions and seek to collaborate with it, particularly in the field of renewable energy. Ofir Winter – INSS – Egypt and Israel: Renewable Energies for Peace
At least 53 people have died in western Ethiopia after an unidentified armed group attacked a civilian convoy and its military escort in a region plagued by ethnic violence. Al Jazeera – Ambush and reprisals in western Ethiopia kill 64 – rights body
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered a European quest to lower dependence on Russian gas and move closer to renewable energy – with a simultaneous triumph eyed over Russian President Vladimir Putin and climate change. The European Commission believes it can replace 24 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Russian gas with zero-emissions renewable energy sources this year. John Psaropoulos – Al Jazeera – Could energy independence from Russia spur a shift to renewables?
- On 28 February 2022, the government of war-torn Ukraine signed an application for European Union membership, asking for immediate accession. Three days later, Georgia and Moldova also submitted applications. This is understandable given that all three former Soviet countries have suffered from Russian aggression and aspire to peaceful, democratic and economically successful development. André Sapir – Bruegel – How should the EU respond to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine’s membership aspirations?
France is several years into a multibillion-euro investment in military space capabilities, and the country is using its temporary role leading the European Council presidency to emphasize the operational domain’s importance across the continent. Vivienne Machi – Defense News – France puts space at top of national — and European — security priorities
- India’s headline inflation surged to an eight-month high in February on higher food prices, with the outlook set to worsen amid commodity-supply disruptions caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Bloomberg, Al Jazeera – India’s inflation surges to 8-month high on soaring food prices
INDIA – UAE
- The inking of the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on 18 February 2022 is slated to open up a host of opportunities for both the economies. The trade pact is envisaged to increase the bilateral trade in goods from the present levels of US$60 billion to US $100 billion over the next five years, and also achieve services trade worth US $15 billion. Claims by the Ministry of Commerce suggest creation of 10 lakh jobs in India in labour-intensive sectors such as textiles, pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery, plastic products, auto and leather, processed agriculture and dairy products, handicrafts, furniture, food and beverages, engineering, etc. The tariffs are supposed to be brought down to zero for 90 percent of Indian exports to the UAE. While this comprises almost 80 percent of the tariff lines, the list will entail around 97 percent of the tariff lines over the next five years. Nilanjan Ghosh – ORF – The India-UAE CEPA: India’s renewed love for FTAs
- Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian will head to Moscow on Tuesday for talks with his Russian counterpart, the Iranian foreign ministry has announced, as it doubled down on its position that the United States is preventing an agreement in the nuclear deal talks held in Vienna. Maziar Motamedi – Al Jazeera – Iran blames US for JCPOA delays as top diplomat heads to Russia
- With its subdued condemnation of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, Israel has failed to strike a just balance between morality and realpolitik. Given that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has refused even to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of another occupied nation, his performative effort to serve as a peace broker can hardly be taken seriously. It is a pathetic attempt to make up for his government’s own moral shortcomings. While India and the US’s friends in the Arab world have also used the pretext of ‘mediation’ to avoid taking sides, they do not share Israel’s pretensions to be ‘a light unto the nations’. Shlomo Ben-Ami – RUSI – Israel’s Craven Neutrality
- Despite some lull due to the pandemic, the Middle East continues to change, and new trends are noticeable in the economy, in public life, and in international relations. The Valdai Club Middle East Conference, held in Moscow in February, showed that the region maintains its long-term role as an energy hub and is looking for ways to overcome the crisis legacy of the so-called Arab Spring. Nikolay Surkov – Valdai Discussion Club – Trends in the Middle East Through the Valdai Lens
RUSSIA – UKRAINE (impact, reactions, consequences)
- Israel is grappling with a situation that involves dealing with dozens of Jewish Russian oligarchs as Western nations step up sanctions on businesspeople with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. A worried Israeli government has formed a high-level committee to see how the country can maintain its status as a haven for any Jew without running afoul of the biting sanctions targeting Putin’s inner circle. Al Jazeera – As Ukraine war rages, Israel grapples with fate of oligarchs
- An assessment of Russian movements and successes in Ukraine indicates that Russian forces are advancing and may still achieve their goals. To survive the next few weeks, Ukrainian forces will need to adopt an operational plan based on exploiting their interior lines. Sam Cranny-Evans and Dr Sidharth Kaushal – RUSI – Not Out of the Woods Yet: Assessing the Operational Situation in Ukraine
- Uganda’s military has said that President Yoweri Museveni’s son, a lieutenant general, who is widely believed to be trying to succeed his long-ruling father, had not, in fact, resigned. Al Jazeera – Uganda military denies resignation of president’s son
As recently as three years ago, the U.S. Navy’s long-term shipbuilding plan laid out a stable path for Ingalls Shipbuilding. The Navy planned to buy two or three Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers each year, splitting the work between the Pascagoula, Mississippi-based Ingalls shipyard and General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works in Maine. Megan Eckstein – Defense News – As US Navy rethinks its fleet, Ingalls Shipbuilding faces uncertain future
In early February, executives from more than a dozen defense firms gathered virtually with top Pentagon leaders, including the department’s secretary. At stake: the future of hypersonic weapons, one of the most hyped, debated and costly weapons initiatives in years. The government is expected to spend $15 billion on the effort between 2015 and 2024. Stephen Losey – Defense News – What should be the United States’ next move on hypersonic tech?
- If you’re confused about the size of the future U.S. Navy fleet, you’re not alone. The service and Pentagon officials have teetered between multiple plans for the last three years, moving back-and-forth between different approaches. Megan Eckstein – Defense News – Top Navy official says service needs a larger fleet and a larger share of the budget
- The U.S. Navy is all in on its “get real, get better” approach to improving fleet readiness by using data to identify root problems as well as solutions. Several ongoing efforts that leverage data analytics — including the Performance to Plan and the Naval Sustainment System efforts — seek to “embrace the red” and tackle them head-on. But how are these data-driven endeavors shaping the fleet? Megan Eckstein – Defense News – Six questions with the US Navy’s top officer, Adm. Mike Gilday
USA – AFGHANISTAN
- On February 11, US President Joe Biden announced the allocation of $3.5bn belonging to the Afghan people to cover lawsuits by 9/11 families. Afghanistan’s foreign currency reserves, which this money is part of, had been frozen by the US administration since August 2021, when the Taliban took over Kabul. Sahar Ghumkhor, Anila Daulatzai – Al Jazeera – It is hardly surprising Empire stole Afghan money
- Yemen’s already dire hunger crisis is “teetering on the edge of outright catastrophe”, UN agency chiefs said on Monday, as new data analysis from the war-ravaged country indicated potentially record food insecurity. UN News – Yemen facing ‘outright catastrophe’ over rising hunger, warn UN humanitarians